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US, West’s threats against Saudis may provoke Muslim world’s backlash


Published : Friday, 19 October, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1629
Observer Special

Since the 'death' or 'disappearance' of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, the global media has become abuzz with sharp criticism , speculations and counter speculations about the Saudi  role in the incident. The point, however, is about the international community's response to the shocking incident.

Similar to them , we the journalist community in Bangladesh  is also shocked as well , and expect a foolproof neutral investigation into the unanticipated disappearance of the Saudi journalist. But the death or disappearance, whatever is proved in the course of investigation, should not foment geopolitical tension in the Middle Eastern region.

In the wake of an isolated Qatar , a war ravaged Syria's increasing agony, enraged Iran protesting relentless US threats, and Yemen facing the worst humanitarian crisis since its existence - the Middle East today is undeniably the most volatile of regions.

We are somewhat alarmed following the US President's threats of 'severe punishment' to Saudi Arabia in view of Khashoggi's disappearance. Also a counter warning from Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, against the West's intimidation came after a turbulent day on the Saudi stock exchange, which plunged as much as 7 percent at one point.

The US statement was issued as international concern grew over the journalist who vanished on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago. American lawmakers threatened tough punitive
action against the Saudis. Germany, France and Britain jointly called for a credible investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.
However, 21st century diplomacy is about the importance of shared values, strategic thinking, refraining from unprovoked interference in domestic issues and peaceful coexistence. We don't believe the diplomacy of embargo, sanctions or actions can solve problems. It never did. On the contrary, such type of aggressive diplomacy has only increased resentment while making the world a more difficult place to live in.

Saudi and Turkish investigators are jointly working to unearth the mystery. Moreover, Saudi Arabia's Consul General in Istanbul was sacked couple of days ago and placed under investigation over the alleged torture and murder of the dissident journalist. Not that there has been no progress so far. Our expectation from the Western powers is to actively help Saudi Arabia and Turkey in digging out the truth and punish the perpetrator - instead of worsening the prevailing chaos in that region.

Optimistically enough, the US Secretary of State Mr Pompeo met King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the Crown Prince and the Saudi Foreign Minister on October 16. Mr Pompeo said his counterparts promised to carry out a complete and transparent investigation and hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing.

Now that a joint initiative for resolving the disappearance of Jamal Khasshogi mystery has been launched, we see no reason for the US and Western Powers to turn it into a geopolitical issue.

The truth: be it as one of the leading oil producers in the world or the most important Muslim nation for leading the Islamic Ummah , Saudi Arabia is a power to reckon with. To put it simply, there cannot be any geopolitical calculation without Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and in larger perspective the Muslim world.  And verbal attacks, threats and rhetoric would only worsen the US and West's relations with the entire Middle East and Muslim Ummah.

Most importantly, since King Salman's ascendance to the throne, the once conservative nation is just unfolding to match with the needs of time.  A series of much heralded reforms sponsored by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has allowed women in that country to drive vehicles and choose  for themselves whether they want to wear black robes or face coverings. Under the Crown Prince's sweeping reforms, modernisation and liberalisation policy Saudi Arabia has entered a much coveted transformation stage.

The US and West's 'threats' and 'actions' against Saudi Arabia, at this stage, will negatively impact the Saudis. At a broader level, it will also harm millions of Bangladeshis and Asians working in Saudi Arabia. The ripple effects of an anti-Saudi stance adopted by the West may well spread far beyond borders while negatively impacting Saudi foreign policies, military deals and Saudi foreign investments in other countries. The Muslim Ummah will surely back Saudi Arabia if the US and the Western powers go for any unilateral and unwanted "severe punishment," as threatened by the US President, against Saudis. These powers should not ignore the sentiment of the Muslims around the world as it may provoke angry backlash from the Muslim world.

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